Electronic assemblies without PCBs – Electronic Products & TechnologyElectronic Products & Technology


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Laser immediate structuring (LDS) is a unique good results story. For pretty much 20 yrs, it has been feasible to apply electronic conductor paths right onto plastic parts in the course of series production. LDS allows the creation of digital assemblies with flexible geometric designs. This method permits digital products (such as intelligent telephones, sensors or healthcare units) to develop into even lesser and far more impressive. Automatic manufacturing procedures also make this method a lot more economically eye-catching.

There is much less and a lot less space available for electronic assemblies, so methods are necessary which exchange regular printed circuit boards. LDS allows additional miniaturization and helps make ever more sophisticated geometric patterns doable. This is a steady and trustworthy process that has set up alone in excellent-critical sectors this kind of as healthcare technology or security-appropriate parts for the automotive business.

LDS procedure enables three-dimensional assemblies

Immediate laser structuring permits 3D-MID (Mechatronic Built-in Products) assemblies to be generated. When using 3D-MID, electronic elements can be equipped directly onto a a few-dimensional foundation system, with no circuit boards or connecting cables. The foundation human body is made working with an injection moulding method, whereby the thermoplastic substance has a non-conductive, inorganic additive.

The structure of the conductor path is used utilizing the LDS method.
LDS enables electronic assemblies to be made in flexible geometric designs. Intelligent phones, hearing aids and good watches are starting to be smaller and much more potent thanks to this procedure. Supply: Harting

The additives in the product are “activated” by direct laser structuring so that the plastic materials can accommodate the electrical conductor paths. The laser beam writes the spots supposed for the conductor paths and generates a micro-tough framework. The produced metal particles variety the nuclei for the subsequent chemical metallisation. In this way, the electrical conductor paths are used to the spots marked by the laser. The other areas of the 3-dimensional base body stay unchanged. The plastic ingredient can then be assembled in standard SMD processes comparable to a standard PCB. It is also suitable for soldering in a reflow oven.

Versatile application of laser technology

As just one of the major suppliers of 3D-MID factors exterior of Asia, HARTING makes use of significant-overall performance laser units for the LDS system, with three lasers working in parallel, each individual offset by 45 degrees. Many thanks to an extra axis of rotation, components can be processed by the laser concurrently from all sides (360 degrees). This technological innovation allows adaptable geometric shapes, such as reflector shells or LED lights, to be built. Despite the small conductor path thickness of 16 to 20 μm, the conductor paths are nevertheless appropriate for demanding automotive parts or for programs with currents up to 10 A – for illustration for heating coils in cameras which are applied to protect against the optics from fogging up

Minimal distances between the conductor paths (a): 50 – 150μm. Minimum width of the conductor paths (b): 50 – 150μm Radius (r): .2mm. Source: Harting

Recurrent changes in the course of the electronics development stage or new elements with modified proportions can direct to high-priced adjustments all through common PCB production. The laser structure, in distinction, can be tailored extremely flexibly by making use of the parameters of the laser’s control software. No variations in the injection moulding are required for this.

The production of prototypes using LDS is also simpler as opposed to traditional procedures. HARTING can generate the plastic foundation physique employing LDS-appropriate content and 3D printing. Injection moulding can also be employed with reasonably priced prototype tools.

New trends in the LDS course of action

Numerous factors of LDS know-how have been enhanced and even more developed around the previous couple of years.

  • The functioning spot of the laser has been enlarged from 160 x 160 x 80 mm to 200 mm x 200 mm x 80 mm, consequently enabling a greater packing density and the processing of even bigger components.
  • The working speed of the laser can be doubled to 4 m/s by optimizing the servo models and mirrors which information the laser beam, thereby considerably lessening the processing time.
  • The advancement of the optics permits the use of a laser with a diameter of 100 μm and a laser with a fine aim of 50 μm for processing even lesser buildings.

HARTING is the only 3D-MID company in the world that has a laser technique with a few wonderful target optics of 50 μm. Even smaller conductor route gaps can be attained many thanks to this high-quality aim laser. Thus, lots of conductor paths can be made on the exact same element and a increased packing density can be applied. This is utilized for basic safety technology, among the other things, mainly because the intently spaced and intertwined conductors are able of triggering safety alarms from even the smallest physical interference.

Advancements in elements and economics

Only specially selected thermoplastics are licensed for the LDS procedure these are offered from stock. The procedure can be further enhanced with buyer-unique adjustments to the plastic material:

  • HARTING makes use of a procedure which provides LDS additives to non-certified supplies to make them MID-suitable.
  • Unique RAL or Pantone colours can be reached with MID plastics by employing colour pigments and exclusive LDS additives.
  • By deciding upon appropriate additives, special RF attributes can also be applied, based on the frequency variety.

Electronic factors – this sort of as LEDs, ICs, photodiodes and sensors – can be connected instantly on to the ingredient provider. The assembled ingredient carriers can then be processed as regular SMD parts. Resource: Harting

To further make improvements to the value-effectiveness of the manufacturing process, HARTING relies on automatic robotic techniques. The LDS laser technique is outfitted with a rotary indexing desk so that a component can be inserted or taken out when a further ingredient is continue to remaining processed. The in-feed and unloading strategies are automatic by HARTING using robotics. This raises throughput and autonomy, whilst also enabling integration into automated generation procedures. An additional automation move is provided through the injection moulding course of action. Here, also, a robot normally takes over the elimination of the injection moulded areas. The use of robotics also improves the specific reproducibility of the procedures and, hence, all round merchandise high-quality.

Much more progress for 3D-MID

The 3D-MID caps secure the electronics from unauthorized accessibility each mechanically and electronically. A very specific meandering structure detects each obtain, no matter how smaller, and consequently helps prevent theft. Source: Harting

HARTING reviews improved demand from customers for MID projects and has further more expanded the 3D-MID division by investing in equipment and by obtaining a competitor’s enterprise. Revolutionary in-residence goods are also contributing to further more progress. HARTING has designed a alternative primarily based on 3D-MID engineering which replaces versatile PCBs with a ingredient provider. In its place of applying a flex-PCB, the element provider can be equipped straight with digital elements, hence saving up to two thirds of the value.



HARTING 3D-MID is providing the comprehensive worth chain for 3D-MID technologies from a single resource, including enhancement/prototyping of buyer-precise merchandise, injection moulding, laser immediate structuring, metallization, assembly and connection engineering, as nicely as closing inspection. Its core business is the production of mechatronic parts for automobile manufacturing, marketplace, health-related technologies and sensor methods.

Dirk Rettschlag, undertaking manager & IE MID at Harting MID.




By Bethann